Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.GoodReads
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.
A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.
I had seen several people talk about this book and I was very intrigued, especially after reading the description. After only a few pages it became quickly apparent that this book was going to make it onto my favourites list.
Simply put, I adored every single character in this novel. Zachary was a fantastic protagonist and incredibly likeable. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that his passion was for video games and books. I can’t remember the last time I related so much to a protagonist! I especially loved his geeky references to games scattered through the novel (“It’s dangerous to go alone” earned several snorts from me in particular). Mirabel and Dorian were great companions for his journey too. Each of their personalities were so different and unique to them, yet they all meshed perfectly. I would have loved to have seen more of Dorian in the novel, however that is me being greedy rather than an actual issue that I had with the novel.
The narrative of this novel was masterfully done, I experienced many ‘penny drop’ moments which made the general experience of reading The Starless Sea incredibly satisfying on several levels. I loved how the novel was broken up into parts and how each part incorporated a different book from the library. The jumping between what is happening in the present and what was written in the stories was brilliantly done and were also woven together seamlessly. The variations in the sentence structures in all of these sections too also made the novel a joy to read and deepened the meanings behind the words. You could tell Morgenstern had carefully crafted this novel and a lot of thought went into each word. There was even a lyrical quality to the way the novel read, which I particularly enjoyed.
It goes without saying at this point, as you can clearly see from the way that I am gushing over this novel how much I enjoyed it. This is definitely a novel that I will be re-reading as I was genuinely sad when I had finished it as I didn’t know what to do with myself afterwards, I felt at a loss (but in a good way). If this book hasn’t already made it onto your shelves (either read or unread), I implore you to add it.